Lego1

Greenpeace targets Lego in new anti-oil-drilling campaign

One PR expert sees cracks in Lego's response

Everything is not awesome for Lego, the target of a new Greenpeace campaign over the toy company’s partnership with Shell.

Greenpeace says Shell is using the wholesome Lego brand to clean up its image for dirty oil drilling. The environmental group is urging Lego to end the partnership, which currently involves Shell-branded Lego toys being sold or given away at gas stations globally. Last week, Greenpeace launched an online petition, followed by the video “LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome” posted to YouTube on July 8. The video shows oil engulfing an idyllic Lego Arctic scene set to a version of The Lego Movie’s hit song, “Everything is awesome.”

“Shell has launched an insidious invasion of children’s playrooms in order to prop up its public image,” said Greenpeace, in a report on its website. “Children and grown-ups around the world love to play with Lego. But Lego should not let itself be used to condone environmental destruction in the Arctic.”

Lego responded almost immediately when the campaign launched on July 1. In a series of Tweets, the company said:

“We’re always thankful for input we receive from fans, children, and parents alike. We know the importance of this issue. We’re determined to leave a positive impact on our society & children. We’re saddened when the Lego brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organizations. However, we fully expect Shell to live up to their responsibility & take appropriate action to any potential claims. It is important to us that any partnerships we have support our vision, promise, & has Lego play at the core.”

Daniel Torchia, managing director of Toronto-based Torchia Communications, isn’t impressed by Lego’s response. “PR people and marketers should care about public perception, not only legal counsel,” he said. “And in the world of public perception, to say ‘I’m saddened by the use of our brand’ is laughable. It doesn’t resonate with people…

“We’re talking about oil spills and environmental damage, a topic that people are fearful about, and you talk about your brand guidelines? That’s where it doesn’t jibe. I would have stuck to the high road and that would have been enough.”

He also said the Lego/Shell partnership, which dates back to the 1960s, doesn’t make sense for Lego. “Partnerships of any kind require alignment of brand values and attributes, and I don’t see that here,” he said. “This partnership is not living up to the Lego motto, which is ‘Only the best is good enough.’”

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